An Italian Classic from the South (Texas, That Is)

Sometimes, a change in Old World classics occurred long ago. Italian Cream Cake may be one such example, although the origins are sketchy. The theory is: When Italian immigrants began to settle in the American South throughout the last century, they joined junior leagues, embraced butter, and came up with such things as the Italian Cream Cake, now a beloved dish at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, TX.

The cake is a sweet, indulgent treat with coconut, pecans and cream cheese frosting, and oh, 19 lbs. of sugar.

“The original recipe is lost, but more than 25 years ago, one of our supervisors brought in a recipe. She's long since retired, but everyone has loved it ever since,” says Celia Krazit, Parkland's director of nutrition services. “I'm not sure how Italian it is, but I've seen it in a lot of Southern junior league cookbooks. Everyone in the South knows of this kind of cake.”

The cake appears every Thursday, causing some fans to dub it “Thursday Cake.” The cake can also be found at Thanksgiving and Christmas bake sales, and is often made for weddings. The cake isn't advertised, but word-of-mouth is a powerful thing. Krazit says the public calls and the hospital tries to meet the orders.

The cake has become so popular that it garnered attention earlier this year in The Dallas Morning News, where a reporter who tried the cake at a wedding decided to investigate further, Krazit says.

“Everything we have is good, but the Italian Cream Cake is the best,” Parkland's baker, Johnnie Odoms, told The Dallas Morning News.

Odoms was nice enough to share the recipe with FM readers.